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What is 5G? What does the future of mobile internet look like?

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  • 5 min read

The next evolutionary step for the telecom industry is the 5G network. Manufacturers like Xiaomi, One Plus, Huawei and Samsung are gearing up to release devices equipped with the latest and greatest. If you’re wondering why everyone is hyped up about it, we’ll tell you why.

What is 5G?

5G will be available by tapping into a higher band at the top of the radio spectrum previously unused due to high operational costs.

Since technology has improved vastly, unlike 4G, that requires large, high-power cell towers to radiate signals over longer distances, 5G wireless signals will be transmitted via strategically placed large numbers of small cell stations located in places like light poles or building roof to send focused and shorter signals for better quality.

5G infrastructure also cuts down the power costs significantly. We are now able to access them and since they’re less congested than traditional bandwidth and can support super-fast transfers. This means less latency — enabling truly always-connected devices and high-quality live streaming.

It’s inevitable for us to shift to 5G networks in order to support more number of users without hindering speed. Since 5G uses MIMO –multiple inputs, multiple outputs — technology, it ensures that there is less loss of data integrity amidst transfers and also that the speeds remain constant.

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What’s in store?

With peak, transfer speeds up to 20 Gbit/s and realistic transfer speeds of 1.5Gbits/s (That’s enough to stream 61 HD Netflix titles simultaneously!) and not to mention various VR/AR applications, Cloud computing and more. It’s hard not to be impressed.

When can we expect 5G?

Huawei has been invited by DoT to take part in 5G trials in India

Realistically speaking we can expect 5G dropping by late 2019 as it will be rolled out to major cities and later to rural areas by 2020. Don’t worry 4G will still be sticking around in case you lose your 5G just like how you have 3G when you lose 4G although you will require a high-end phone with top of the line internals to fully harness the potential of 5G.

Qualcomm has also introduced its new 5G compatible Snapdragon 855 chipset, which will be used in 5G smartphones releasing in early 2019.

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When can we expect 5G in India?

With around 340 million smartphone users in India, we have a large market who would be willing to move up to 5G speeds, and with competitive cheap data rates from telecoms during the launch of a 5G network, the growth in the number of subscribers of the new tech won’t be a problem.

With The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) inviting telecoms to conduct field trials, Airtel has already started testing their 5G services in major cities like Kolkata and Bangalore. Reliance Jio has promised an early 2020 roll-out, and others are keen to follow soon.

Going by the picture drawn here, it’s safe to say India won’t be lagging in adoption of 5G. But is it viable for Indian telcos to roll out 5G technology in the coming year?

Well, 5G technology would need a complete overhaul of the existing infrastructure installed by these companies. Add to that the cheap data rates in the country — courtesy of the disruption caused by Jio in 2016.

For the telecom providers to gain back their investment, higher data rates might need to be implemented, which could cause the customer base to dwindle as they’ve been already exposed to the fact that data can be immensely cheap.

A majority of the Indian mobile users are still not on 4G connections, which goes to show that the country is still adapting to this network. 5G will definitely come to India, but 2019 might not be the year it arrives. Not only India, but a global rollout of 5G technology will take time.

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5G ready phones

The race is on among big manufacturers as we aren’t sure who would bring out the first shiny 5G phone to the market. Samsung said that they’re working on their 5G phone and with South Korea launching its 5G network around March 2019 we could expect a launch.

OnePlus also said they would push out their 5G phone early next year with a new lineup. Other manufacturers such as Huawei, Motorola (excluding Z3 and its add-on modules), Lenovo, and Xiaomi have been pretty vocal about their desire to bring 5G capable handsets to the masses.

So, it’s safe to say the future is moving towards a better-connected society with a broader field of possibilities for content consumption, transfer and development.

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Mani Maaran

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